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An exploration of the employment of faith and science through the major strands of religion and psychology

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posted on 2022-12-05, 03:30 authored by Anthony P. Winning

When seeking to reflect upon the experience of being human, a recurring observation of people has been the presence of suffering as an element of life. In turn, over the millennia, human beings have sought to not only understand what may comprise the human condition, but also the causes of difficulties and approaches to remediation. Arguably the most prominent and influential of these frameworks in the modern world is that of religion and psychology. However, each approach has sought to derive knowledge in different ways, with religion based primarily on faith, and psychology generally being a product of science. Yet an examination of the use of psychology and religion has typically consisted of investigating the psychological effects of religious undertakings, such as the emotional benefits of praying, or how the discoveries of psychology may augment religious goals, such as in providing pastoral care. However, this fails to answer how the various strands of religion and psychology may interrelate based upon the fundamental underlying ideas found in the various religious traditions and strands of psychology themselves. Therefore, this thesis sought to uncover what the major religions of the modern world, and prominent psychological theorist, view as the cause of human suffering, and approaches to remediation. In turn, through utilising various metaphysical positions that may underlie science and religion, accord was found between various strands of religion and psychology, based on the key underlying ideas found within each framework. This was further augmented by the use of the theologian and scientist Ian Barbour's fourfold typologies, which sought to account for the various ways that the findings of science and religious have been utilised over the centuries. In turn, it may be possible to furnish guidance on the employment of stands of religion and psychology, as well as an overarching goal for the life of a human beings, based on how a person answers three questions; that of whether life can be accounted for purely by physical reality, if human beings are intrinsically antisocial, neutral or prosocial, and if human beings are capable of unification with divinity. This is of great significance, because while such answers may represent aspects of life that are fundamentally mysterious, they can act a focal points for careful and in-depth examination by people when seeking to understand potential ways to approach life. 


Table of Contents

Chapter 1: introduction -- Chapter 2: religion -- Chapter 3: psychology -- Chapter 4: approaches to the integration of religion and psychology -- Chapter 5: conclusion -- Notes -- References


Thesis submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Psychology), Macquarie University

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


Thesis (PhD), Macquarie University, Department of Psychology, 2020

Department, Centre or School

Department of Psychology

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Simon Boag


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